Author(s): Seames WS, Fernandez A, Wendt JO
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Abstract Municipal sewage sludge (MSS) is formed during wastewater treatment and its processing and disposal represent one of the most environmentally challenging aspects of the wastewater treating process. One disposal option currently being considered is a process involving heat treatment (to render the sludge biologically inactive) followed by dewatering, drying, pulverizing, and combustion. This research focuses on fine particle emissions from the combustion of dried, treated, MSS, cofired with either natural gas or pulverized Ohio bituminous coal as a supplemental fuel. These fuels were burned at 13 kW in a downflow laboratory combustor designed to replicate time/temperature histories and particle concentrations typical of practical combustion units yet also sufficiently well defined aerodynamically to allow elucidation of mechanisms. Size-segregated particle size distributions were obtained by isokinetic sampling followed by dilution/quenching and passage into a Berner Low-Pressure Impactor. Major and trace elements were analyzed by flame and graphite furnace atomic absorption spectroscopy. Four particle size regions were identified: furnace vapor-phase material that formed ultrafine particles either in or just before the sampling probe, submicron-sized particles formed during the combustion process, micron-sized fine particles, and larger supermicron sized bulk fly ash particles. The fuel mix appears to influence trace metal partitioning routes and the composition of fine particulate matter in the exhaust. Cofiring of MSS with coal increases the ultrafine/submicron particle emission compared to firing coal alone. This increase in ultrafine/submicron particles is most likely due to an interaction between species derived from MSS (possibly alkali metals) and those from coal (possibly sulfur and/or chlorine). Vapor-to-solid phase partitioning of arsenic and selenium is controlled by surface reaction with active surface sites during MSS combustion with either gas or coal. Co-combustion of MSS with the Ohio bituminous coal allows the arsenic and selenium to be reactively scavenged by calcium, thus changing the speciation of the trace metal emitted. Ohio bituminous coal alone contained insufficient calcium to accomplish this same scavenging effect.
This article was published in Environ Sci Technol
and referenced in Journal of Oceanography and Marine Research